After a "bomb cyclone" swept through the Midwest this week, heavy rainfall coupled with rapid snowmelt caused catastrophic flooding in some 14 states.
The National Weather Service says that "major to historic" flooding will continue for the short range across parts of the Missouri and Mississippi River Basins. Flooding is also a concern right now across parts of the Northwest and into the Northern Plains as warmer temperatures lead to accelerated snowmelt and the potential for ice jams, which restrict the flow of rivers.
Flash floods are the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S. What's more, over 50% of deaths due to flooding occur in vehicles, according to the National Weather Service.
Now is the right time to remind your drivers about the perils of driving in floods and how to stay safe. Experts offer the following advice:
If you see a flood up ahead, it is always best to turn around instead of driving through it. This is the most prudent course of action. Don't choose convenience over your own safety.
The depth of the water is not always obvious and the roadway underneath may be eroded. In fact, as little as 6 inches of water can cause your car to stall. If other vehicles are driving through the flood, take note of how deep the water appears to be. If it's shallow enough and you decide to drive through, slow down and take your time.
Avoid Moving Water
Water flowing at 7 mph is a force equivalent to air blowing at 200 mph. It is important to understand that one foot of water will cause the average car to float. Even more frightening, two feet of rushing water will carry away most vehicles including SUVs and pickup trucks.
Leave a Stalled Vehicle Behind
If your car stalls, experts say you should get out, find higher ground and call 911.
Know How to Escape a Submerged Vehicle
The most hazardous situation during a flood is driving into water that goes over the top of your vehicle. The National Safety Council recommends immediately rolling down and exiting via the window. Then swim with the current to safety.